Drew Hanlen’s Essentials for Skill Development

By Tony Miller

Drew Hanlen, NBA skills trainer and Pure Sweat Basketball‘s CEO, shares his thoughts on the most important characteristics of a player development coach, how to organize a workout, and the necessary skills for succeeding in today’s game.

The following are excerpts from A Quick Timeout Podcast. Listen to the entire interview or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Anchor.

What are the two most important characteristics of a basketball skills trainer?

Drew Hanlen: The first one is caring. I think if you have good intent and you care about your players, then you’re going to put in the work and try to find solutions for every problem that they have. They second one is knowledge. I put the caring part first because I believe there are some skills trainers who lack the knowledge, but they instill confidence in their players [because they care]. The second part is knowledge because you need to teach them the right things, and you need to have solutions for every problem that they’ll see out there on the court.

How do you go about planning an individual workout?

DH: It starts actually before we even get in the gym. After the season, we’ll look over film, go over analytics, then we’ll talk to people that are in the circle – the head coach, the player development coach, the front office staff, the player’s agent. Then all together we come up with 1 to 3 things we’ll focus in during the off-season. Early on in my career, I used to have a pancake theory. I tried to spread them wide and thin. Now, it’s all about depth and getting better at 1 to 3 things.

As far as the workout, they’ll come in the gym and get warmed up by a physical therapist or a trainer. After that, we do some warmup for shooting and some basic spot shooting to get their blood flowing. And then after that, we lock in on whatever that one thing is for the day. Then we finish up with game shots.

During the season, it’s a little bit different because we’re trying to make adjustments that will help the player out moving forward.

It seems a lot of skills trainers think it’s about teaching players individual moves. I’m guessing you would say it’s a whole lot more than that.

DH: That’s just surface-level. To really be able to teach the how and the why – all the little details that go into making sure they get the game results instead of just the workout results. You see a lot of players that are really good in workouts and then when they go to the game, they’re not fully prepared.

When you’re working with a player, how do you know the right amount of feedback to give to really help the player improve in a session?

DH: It depends on the player, based on their learning style. Some players are visual learners. Some learn by really thinking through things. Some learn from trial and error. You just have to understand how they learn.

I always boil things down to three. I never give a guy more than three things to focus on. Not only does that simplify things, but it also allows me to hold them accountable for those three things.

For more from Drew, download A Quick Timeout podcast on your favorite podcast platform.

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Tony Miller

Tony Miller

Men's Assistant Basketball Coach at Bob Jones University Bruins
Dr. Tony Miller is the men's assistant basketball coach at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. In addition, he serves as the director of BJU's sport management degree program.
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